NCAA 6-peat, PBA stint next in line for Palaro champ Diputado
MANILA, Philippines - When Calabarzon needed someone to take over during pressure-packed situations in the 2014 Palarong Pambansa high school basketball wars, third year high school guard Marc Joper Diputado willfully obliged and delivered the title at home.
The 5-foot-10 combo guard out of San Beda High School led the Calabarzon region to a masterful conquest of National Capital Region in the finals of the national games on Saturday, May 11 in Laguna, scoring 19 points including three from beyond the arc. He left defenders biting the dust in the final minute en route to bagging the Palaro title for the first time in three years in front of a hometown crowd.
And still fresh from Palaro glory, there is no stopping newly-decorated gold medalist and Mythical 5 member from eyeing another piece of silverware that would cement his name in PH high school hoops' history books: a sixth straight title for the San Beda Red Cubs in the upcoming NCAA season this June.
"I want to get the (NCAA) six-peat," he immediately declared after clinching the Palaro trophy.
While there is pressure to perform well for Diputado due to the departure of San Beda High School's talented pair of guards Andrei Caracut and Ranbill Tongco, the Dumaguete City native says he will just keep going.
"Hindi mawawala ang pressure dahil gusto naming i-keep ang trophy. Gagawin ko lang ng maayos ang pinapagawa ni coach sa akin," said Diputado, who has attracted a few scouts from the sidelines who think he can be a tall point guard who can pass and also take charge.
(Pressure will always be there because we want to keep the trophy. For me, I will just do my part and do whatever coach tells me to do)
Now expected to be the premier backcourt gunner of the Red Cubs, Diputado says he will use this desire to help the Taytay-based squad wrest their 6th straight NCAA juniors basketball crown.
"My desire to be a better player and beat my own performance in the previous game drives me to give my best. I want to be a professional and that keeps me going."
Diputado started embracing the country's most popular sport when he was in third grade, since it had already captured the family's attention. Marc Joper's older brother, Adven Jess, also suited up for Palaro and in various international competitions in the previous year.
The younger Diputado likened his style of play to two premier point guards here and abroad: Jimmy Alapag and Steph Curry.
"I look up to them because they're both passionate on the court," shared Diputado.
It will be a daunting task for the SBC juniors backcourt star; not even starting their quest for a 6-peat, Diputado already vowed not to stop as he aims to add more pieces to his basketball career puzzle.
"Ever since I was a child, my dream is to join the PBA. Every game is a chance to reach my dream. I want to fulfill my family's ultimate dream for me," Diputado told Rappler.
The Palaro served as a training ground for many of the Philippines' best basketball cagers like Danny Ildefonso, Marlou Aquino, and Mark Barroca.
And Diputado's determination and passion about basketball might just take him to where he wants to be - among the list of Philippine basketball's top guns. - Rappler.com